YouTube has traveled a long way since its arrival in 2005. As the use of the video-sharing platform expanded in many countries over time, India lagged behind due to slow Internet speeds and low Internet penetration. But in the last couple years, it has taken an interesting turn.
The active internet user base in India has nearly tripled from 159 million in 2012 to 462 million in 2016. Meanwhile, Internet data prices have dropped and the number of smartphones has risen from 42 million in 2012 to 220 million in 2016. Prices of the cheapest smartphones have dropped down from $75 (Rs 4,950) to $45 (Rs 2,970). All of this has contributed to the growth of YouTube in India.
There were not a lot of YouTube stars only five years ago. In 2012, India's emerging YouTube sensations included Wilbur Sargunraj, a self-proclaimed singer from Madurai whose song “Love Marriage” went viral on YouTube, and Indian film actor, director, producer, writer, lyricist, and playback singer Dhanush, whose “Kolaveri Di” also went viral. In the following years in the forefront were also role models like All India Bakchod (AIB) and The Viral Factory (TVF). Now there are many more like BB ki vines, The Viral Fever Videos and Being Indian.
YouTube India has over 60 million unique users who spend more than 48 hours a month viewing content. Currently in India, some 20,000 active YouTube channels upload 380,000 videos per month generating billions of views and attracting millions of new customers.
While most of these YouTube channels belong to the movies, TV, entertainment and games/IT categories, several channels have something quite different in mind.
‘Edutainment’ for kids
India's third most-viewed YouTube channel, Chu Chu TV, has nearly 7 million subscribers. Launched in 2013 by an Indian entrepreneur named Vinod Chander, Chu Chu TV is now the most-watched YouTube channel in Asia Pacific and the second-most watched children's “edutainment” channel in the world.
Chu Chu TV mainly offers popular nursery rhymes and introduces kids to early phonetic skills with colours, music, and beats. The videos help develop children's speaking and hearing skills and improve vocabulary and accent with repetitive syllables and tone. The rhymes also enhance kids’ imaginations by narrating stories that children can picture in their minds. The channel also encourages good behaviour, such as the importance of sharing and telling the truth. See Global Voices’ report for more.
If a 6-year-old can cook, anyone can
Six-year-old Chef Nihal Raj, whose nickname is Kicha, is a first standard student of the Choice School in Thripunithura, Kochi, in the Indian state of Kerala. Kicha started his ‘Kichatube‘ channel in January 2015, and has since become an YouTube sensation. The first recipe to be shared by him on YouTube was of ice popsicles, and he has since expanded to jam cookies, orange jelly, coconut pudding, Oreo truffles and tandoori baby potatoes, to name a few. He now has 31 videos with hundreds of thousands of views.
In 2016 his popularity expanded across the world as he appeared on the popular US talk show Ellen DeGeneres, the youngest Indian to do so. The video of the appearance has generated more than 2.5 million views. See Global Voices’ report for more.
Video created by citizen journalists from marginal communities
With a focus on India, community media organization and Global Voices partner Video Volunteers trains disadvantaged citizens in video journalism and data gathering so they have a voice in media and can demand their rights. The organization is represented by a network of more than 200 community correspondents, all of whom belong to disadvantaged communities. These correspondents use their mobile phones to record local instances of discrimination, oppression, negligence, corruption and culture.
TED Fellow Jessica Mayberry founded Video Volunteers in 2003 after spending a year training rural Indian women in filmmaking as a W.J. Clinton Fellow of the American India Foundation. Mayberry works closely with co-director Stalin K, an Indian documentary filmmaker and community radio activist.
As a content sharing partner, Global Voices featured many videos created by the community correspondents of Video Volunteers in 2016. The videos ranged from stories of how a citizen journalist in India took on the local government over pensions and won, how makeshift schools helped Kashmiri kids continue their education during long periods of curfew, videos depicting the lack of open space for kids in Mumbai, and how boys are favored and girls are discriminated against.
Video Volunteers has more than 500 videos on topics like child marriage, temple prostitution, insurgent conflict, atrocities against Dalits and peace between Hindus and Muslims. They have been seen by more than 300,000 people in live outdoor screenings in slums and villages. Its YouTube channel has more than 8,000 subscribers, and the videos have generated more than 6.8 million views.